Posts Tagged ‘wargame’

The Flare Path: In The Denmark Strait

The trick of using high prices to imply high quality goes back a very long way in digital wargame publishing. Computer Bismarck, the title that launched the genre in January 1980, was advertised as “the $2160 wargame” ($60 for the software, $2100 for the Apple II Plus necessary to run it). SSI proudly proclaimed their creation was “worth every cent” of this princely sum. Whether you ended up agreeing with them depended largely on how much you valued novelties like artificial opposition and effortless fog of war, and how ready you were to overlook design quirks like an onerous interface, an absence of alternative scenarios, and a monstrously magenta North Atlantic. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: A Frank Hexchange

The work of helmet restorers Alexander & Sons

Yesterday morning, quite by chance, I found myself sharing a tuk-tuk with one of my personal heroes. The six sides and rotational/reflection symmetries, the 120 degree internal angles, the faint whiff of blood and cordite… I recognised Theo Hexagon, aka ‘The Hex’, the moment he hopped aboard. By the time we hit our first traffic-jam, I’d introduced myself, whipped out a voice recorder and commenced an impromptu interview. A transcript of that all-too-brief exchange follows. If you’ve ever waged war on a battlefield draped with outsized chicken wire, the 1200-or-so words beyond the break should prove interesting.

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Heavily Engaged: On Wargaming, Guilt And Remembrance

Every Sunday, we reach deep into Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s 141-year history to pull out one of the best moments from the archive. This week, Tim Stone’s piece on grognard guilt, originally published in 2011.

No battle reportage this week. Rather than confuse you with another tale of how Easy Company went east then north a bit then left a bit while Baker Company went west then south then right a bit, I thought I’d try to get to the bottom of a feeling that has gnawed at the edges of my wargaming pleasure for the best part of 30 years. That feeling could be described as unease, or perhaps, disquiet. At a stretch you might even call it guilt.

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The Flare Path: Ultimate General Knowledge

“My favourite game of 2016? Unquestionably, Ultimate General: Austerlitz. Game-Labs spectacular turnless wargame series has been edging towards Greatness for a couple of years now, and finally took the VL in September. The flaws that tarnished the original release (Ultimate General: Gettysburg) are now distant memories. It’s hard to believe I once grumbled about annoying cannon combat, glaring GUI gaps, and an unexpected lack of challenge.”

The Flare Path, January 6, 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm

Like Autumn, the forest alchemist, I’ve spent this week splashing hillsides with gold and crimson. In woods, fields and towns the length of West Germany I’ve been tirelessly turning earthy greens into vibrant reds and yellows. Hundreds of hurrying APCs, hastily dug-in MBTs, and hovering helo gunships have flared like frost-startled beech trees as I’ve fought to resist Red Storm’s irresistible red storm. It’s years since I witnessed such wholesale destruction in a tactical wargame, and years since I was so impressed by the rules and mechanisms underpinning hexagonal aggro.

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Wot I Think: Command: Modern Air Naval Operations

ACRONYM GLOSSARY (Please memorise before proceeding)

ASW – Anti Submarine Warfare. AEW – Airborne Early Warning. SEAD – Suppression of Enemy Air Defences. DICASS – Directional Command Active Sonobuoy System. SSN – Nuclear-powered submarine. ITWPWT – Innocent Trawler in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time. CMANOCommand: Modern Air Naval OperationsCHR – Compendious Harpoon Replacement. ESS  Essentially Ship-Shape. DSDDB – Despite Shoal of Disappointing Deficiencies and Bugs. ADPP – And Divisive Price Point. RRDAII – Refreshingly Responsive Devs Already Implementing Improvements. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Fancy A Viennese Whirl?

Check mirror. Indicate. Pull out. Nod at passing tram driver. Coast towards red traffic light. Dab brakes. Slide open side window. Feel cool night air on skin. Smell lilacs. Remember lilac bush that grew beside the war memorial at Pastinakweg. Picture Kathrin. Remember that holiday at Lake Balaton in ’93. Grin. Accelerate. Accelerate some more. Curse after clipping kerb at Oberfeld. Sound horn at cheeky bus lane-blocking Golf. Nose into heavy traffic near Kagraner Platz. Contemplate trail of tail lights twinkling like a flare path on Breitenleer Strasse. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: A Hextasy Of Fumbling

Where do you stand on the issue of simulated poison gas? If your answer is “Upwind!” then read on, I’ve a couple of new games here that may tickle your fancy. Commander: The Great War and Squad Battles: First World War come at The War To End All Wars from opposite directions. The former bestrides Europe and offers two-week turns and army-sized units. The latter bestrides No Man’s Land (sometimes not even that) and occasionally lets a single plucky infantry squad turn the tide of battle. Both are mechanically conservative, but – based on the evidence of my preliminary playtests – rammed with the kinds of period challenges and pleasures that military-minded gamers will struggle to find elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Diecast Romans

In another life FP was an interpreter attached to Legio XIV Gemina during the Roman invasion of Britain. It was his job to trudge up to the skull-festooned gates of hill forts, usually dodging sling stones and hurled turds as he went, and do the surrender-in-the-name-of-the-Emperor spiel. The answers he carried back to his employers could be long or short, poetic or pithy, but generally they boiled down to the same thing: “We’d rather not, old bean. Attack us and by nightfall your finest warriors will be kissing crows’ feet and buggering mouse holes”Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path Guide To Furtive Fact Gathering

In today’s wary/warry world it’s not always possible for mil sim developers to gain all the necessary permissions before mounting foreign research trips. The Flare Path understands this and, in the interests of keeping gung-ho game-crafters out of ghastly gaols, has drawn up the following indispensable guide to researcher survival. If your away team utilize these ten simple tips they’ll almost certainly* return home safe, sound, and laden with quality intel. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Flèche Wounds

In the Spring of 1813 the inhabitants of the Russian village of Borodino noticed a new flower speckling their fields and verges. Resembling a buttercup but with crimson rather than golden petals, the blooms gave off a perfume that pricked eyes and turned stomachs. A nauseating mix of crushed flint and tanners’ urea, burnt wool and butchers’ leavings, the odour clung to clothes, unnerved horses and tainted milk. It drove away butterflies and bees. Only one creature seemed to like the smell. Moscow newspapers of the period contain vivid descriptions of vast clouds of blowflies rising from the city’s slums and midden heaps and swirling westward. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: A Skulk Of Foxers

The Flare Path turns one this week. Here in the UK that means it can legally get its navel pierced, buy wine gums, point at clouds, and read Knut Hamsun on public transport. To commemorate the occasion there’ll be no game newscasts or inscrutable intros today. The entire column will be given over to quizzes. Dozing adorably beyond the jump are five bushy-tailed Foxers, each with a rather special prize tied to its brush. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Sea Of Sand

“They’ve found her!”. 5 seconds ago I was fast asleep. “Ekrem, is that you? Do you know what time it is here?”. “Listen. HMS Clytemnestra has been found.”.  The words are ice-water hurled into my pillow-creased face. Warm feet slap cold floor tiles. “Where?”. “Are you sitting down?” .“WHERE?”. “You won’t believe this. She’s in the middle of the Gobi Desert.”. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Hull-Down In Heaven

With Sergei on bow MG, and myself on coax and main gun, the Cherubim and Seraphim didn’t stand a chance. We cut down maybe 300 of them before Tomas, getting nervous, decided it was time to leave the sunken lane. Wise old Tomas! As ‘Hellhound’ wiggled her way back through the gap in the farmyard wall, the shellcase-strewn position we’d just abandoned was scarified by a salvo of ground-heaving trumpet blasts. “Gabriel’s about! Stay sharp, lads!” The lieutenant’s warning had barely escaped his lips when a second salvo demolished the barn we were scraping past. I must have clouted my head on the breech because the next thing I remember is waking up in a medical Ju-52 somewhere over Náströnd. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Isle Of Boobies

Nobody knows for sure why the Hawaiian Giant Booby (Microsofta Flightus) died out. Some say its nest sites were invaded by shipwrecked rats. Others suggest Polynesian cloak-makers hunted it to extinction. A few believe the bird’s demise was directly linked to its unusual habit of aero-ovulation. Me, I’m a subscriber to the ‘Fatally flawed DLC’ theory. MS released the wrong add-ons at the wrong times at the wrong prices. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sicilian Defence: Battlefront Talk Plans, Prices, & Pixies

I’m free! Using a straightened coathanger, a blob of chewing gum, and an old Broken Sword walkthrough, I’ve managed to escape the fetid dungeon that is The Flare Path. God, the air out here sure is sweet. And the views – wow! – that must be Mount Manshoot over there, and that can only be the Temple of Fairly Tiresome MMOs. A man could totally reinvent himself in a land like this… he could ditch decades’ worth of baggage and inhibitions.

Alternatively, he could have a panic attack, and decide to calm himself by talking to the nice people* at Battlefront about their staggeringly bold Combat Mission roadmap.

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The Flare Path: This Sporting Life

Gosh! I’ve just read the small-print in my RPS contract. It seems Flare Path’s remit includes sports simulations. Strictly speaking, for the last 45 weeks I should have spent as much time in dugouts and bunkers as dugouts and bunkers. My weekly screenshot selection really should have featured as many wingmen, props, and Tigers, as wingmen, props, and Tigers. Thank God the Hivemind usually naps on Friday afternoons. All the same, a change of tack would seem sage. In today’s column not one but two games with cast-iron connections to current sporting events. Read the rest of this entry »

Heavily Engaged: 101 – Airborne Invasion of Normandy

The replacement of today’s Flare Path with this tale of turn-based D-Day derring-do means one of two things. Either Interpol has finally worked out the identity of Red Shrike (highly unlikely) or Yours Grudgingly has been persuaded to brave rain, family, and unfamiliar chip-shops, and Go On Holiday. Assuming I’m currently sunning myself on some storm-lashed British beach, normal FP service will resume next week. In the meantime why not sit back and feign interest while I regale you with another wargame-generated battle ballad.

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The Flare Path: Bear With A Soar Head

You can keep your Easters and your St George’s Days; the only festival I observe is Swallowtide. This year it fell on May 8. We were shenning in Wide Acre when Aldwyn suddenly threw down his hook, and, pointing southward, bellowed the traditional “HOME SAFE! HOME ALL?”. Dancing above our heads like leaves in a mill plunge, the swallows seemed as happy to see us as we were to see them. As usual, not everyone had made it back. Later we learnt that 4600136 had been snatched by a hobby over Gibraltar, and 4651011 had fallen to a sandstorm near Timbuktu. Perhaps the saddest story was that of 4690870. Crossing the Cornwall coast, a mere 50 miles left to travel, she was downed by a stoat-launched SAM missile. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path Reading Room

The scent of parquet wax and trapped sunbeams greets you as you prise open the heavy glass door and step inside. This has to be the place, and yet, if it is, where are all the books? Noticing your baffled expression, a librarian, all tweed and twinkling eyes, approaches. “You were expecting more books? Everyone expects more books. At present we’ve only got the two – down there in the WW2 section (he gestures towards a shelf-lined alcove watched over by a large ceiling-mounted model of a Short Sunderland). Additional volumes should be arriving soon. Assuming, of course, visitors like yourself are willing to do their bit.”

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